After back-to-back embarrassing 5-0 losses, the Oilers’ captain decided that enough was enough, and he absolutely willed the team to a victory.
That may sound a little strange, since the Oilers only scored once in regulation, and in all honesty, Cam Talbot was every bit as responsible for tonight’s victory as McDavid was. But, despite having just a lone primary assist to show for it, tonight was one of McDavid’s best performances of the season. He was, without a doubt, worth the lofty price of admission tonight, all by himself.
In a game that was fairly evenly matched at 5 on 5, the Oilers were, refreshingly, able to draw five penalties, and, as a result, controlled the play in all situations for the majority of the night. A trend the Oilers must aim to continue if they want to entertain their extremely faint chances of playing past game #82 this year.
Of course, with McDavid on the ice tonight, the Oilers could have played four men short, and they probably wouldn’t have fared too poorly. His line dominated at even strength. He, Lucic, and Puljujarvi played on tilted ice all night, generating quality chances frequently and drawing penalties on Ducks defenders who couldn’t handle McDavid’s elite bursts of speed.
One such McDavid rush, which was started by a Lucic breakout pass, led to the Oilers’ first goal in three games, courtesy of Kris Russell.
Aside: Did anyone notice that Remenda remarked that it was Russell’s first goal in 14 games, as if that’s some huge personal scoring drought for him? Coming into the game, Russell had averaged 1 goal every 16.6 games in his career. So, really, he’s on a huge hot streak right now, with 2 goals in his last 15.
Obviously it’s McDavid. I just spent the entire article raving about his play, but I do feel compelled to give honourable mentions to Talbot, and the Oilers’ two shootout goalscorers: Mike Cammalleri and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Getting only one point for tonight’s efforts would have felt like a definitive blow for the Oilers’ season. Instead we’re left with extremely faint, probably unrealistic hope. But it’s hope nonetheless.
In fact, it may not even be hope. It may just be the catharsis that comes with beating a team that we all grew to really hate last spring. Either way, the Oilers are back in the win column, and it’s now apparent that they’re not going to be shut out for the rest of the season.
Kudos to McDavid and the rest of the boys for getting it done.